ABC’s Favorite Reads 2013, part 2: Renate, Barry, PeterH

It’s my favorite part of the blogging year: our favorite reads! The ABC staff has looked through all the books and magazines they’ve read over the past year, or games they played, or stationery they used, and picked out their top 5 (or 4, or 8). Every single item in these posts comes highly recommended, and we hope to add some ideas to your 2014 reading list.

Of course, we always love reading tips ourselves, too, and so we hope you will send in YOUR favorite reads of 2013 to us. They don’t have to be books published in 2013, just read in 2013. Please mail your Top 5 (and why these books were so good) to by December 31st, and don’t forget to include your home address so we can send you an ABC gift certificate in the new year as a thank you. As has become a tradition, your Top 5s will be published in January.

Our second Favorite Reads post comes courtesy of

  • Renate: has published her short stories (in Dutch) through internet magazine Tijdschrift Ei.
  • Barry: surfer dude, still after all these years.  Knows every single book in his sections, and whether he has them in stock or not.
  • PeterH: the Englishman with NO Dutch accent what-so-ever! He should change his name to Peter Huppelwoud.



De Kat en andere Verhalen – Juan Garcia Ponce
Unfortunately, this story collection by Mexican author Ponce is no longer available from our regular suppliers. But perhaps we can get it second-hand 🙂 I got my Dutch copy (Uitgeverij Meulenhoff) on a fleamarket for only EUR 0.50 on Queen’s Day. Lucky me. Especially the story ‘De Kat’ oozes eroticism and sensuality. The other two stories in this book are also quite something and are beautifully, carefully told. They made my tiny heart beat a little faster.

Valse Papieren – Valeria Luiselli (English title: Sidewalks, ebook here)
Anoher Mexican author, but I think from Italian descent.
I read it in Dutch, since it’s so wonderfully published by the sympathetic Dutch Uitgeverij Karaat, but it’s also available in English as Sidewalks and, originally, in Spanish as Papeles Falsos.
This is not a novel, not an essay collection, no short story collection, but … yes, what exactly? Something that I will read again, and probably again. Luiselli is a very smart, poetical, talented lady who makes me very very jealous. I wish I could write like her.

Identiteit – Paul Verhaeghe
Verhaeghe (a psychiatrist from Gent) interestingly connects the current explosion of issues like depression, burn-outs, anxiety and loneliness with the economic ways of the world today. Society’s identity has changed, we’ve become increasingly competitive and paranoid and lonely, and Verhaeghe discusses the ways in which our neo-liberal market system has come to determine almost everything in our lives. An eye-opener. Really. It changed the way I look at things. Also, Verheaghe is a little angry, which always a little nicer to read.

Fools – Joan Silber
A short story collection by a woman whom I’d never heard of before, but who’s been writing for decades, apparently. The cover of the book appealed to me, somehow, and I picked it up and read a page or two or three or four, and I couldn’t stop. Her stories are like wonderful little novels that take you to places and times and then, of course, hit home. Her style is deceivingly simple and clear. All the more praise for that.

De Mansarde – Marlen Haushofer
Unfortunately, this amazing novel by Austrian writer Haushofer is not even available in English anymore*. This book made me laugh out loud several times, in spite of its serious subject matter: the awareness of one woman’s isolation in marriage and life. The Wall, another novel by Haushofer, is, luckily, still available in English and was also made into a movie recently.
*Blogmistress’s note: nor does it appear to be available in Dutch anymore, either.

Ways of Going Home – Alejandro Zambra (ebook here)
This book made me cry.


The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon – Kevin Fedarko

The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing – Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul

New York Review Abroad: Fifty Years of International Reportage – Robert L. Silver

On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin – Marie Colvin

Ministry of Guidance Invites You Not to Stay – Hooman Majd (ebook here)

The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach (ebook here)


Sane New World: Taming the Mind – Ruby Wax (ebook here)
Her very own personal take on sanity or “not”.

The Forest – Edward Rutherfurd (ebook here)
Michener in England.

Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro – Michele Kort
Love the music, love the artist.

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Missed this in school – wrong school!

The Solitude of Ravens – Masahisa Fukase
Rediscovered work of art.
Blogmistress’s note: Out of print, sadly.